Health Supreme by Sepp Hasslberger

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June 08, 2006

Testing Pesticides on Children? Industry Helped Bush Write Law

It's true we call them 'little pests' sometimes but is that reason enough to douse them with a pesticide? The Bush administration apparently has no compunction about that, and according to an article by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility's Chas Offutt, the pesticide industry helped write the policy.


Image credit: Californians for Pesticide Reform

"One month before the Bush administration proposed rules authorizing experiments on humans with pesticides and other chemicals, its key operatives met with pesticide industry lobbyists to map out its provisions, according to meeting notes posted today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The industry requests for exemptions allowing some chemical testing on children and other provisions were incorporated into the human testing rule ultimately adopted this January 26th.

At the August 9, 2005 meeting held inside the President’s Office of Management and Budget, representatives of the pesticide trade association, Crop Life America, as well as Bayer CropScience met with OMB and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officials. Also attending was a former top EPA official, James Aidala, who now acts a lobbyist at a law firm representing chemical companies."

"Unfortunately, using human beings as guinea pigs to test the toxic strength of commercial poisons has become a central regulatory strategy under the Bush administration,” says PEER's Executive Director Jeff Ruch.

The situation in Canada does not seem much better. London's local Public Health Officer has said pesticides "pose a serious health risk to the residents of London. The Pest Management Regulatory Agency basically sits in the lap of its industry partners and throws pot shots at the medical community without ever engaging them," she said in an interview. "It really does seem they're acting with and for the pesticide industry and not for the health of Canadians."See Chris Gupta's post Government Hypocrites on Pesticides & Children's Health.

When government agencies and industry "work together", it seems we should better watch our backs. The interests of profit seldom coincide with either our health or the environment, and profit is of course the only real objective when corporations get together with bureaucrats to make new laws.

The Alliance for Human Research Protection's Vera Hassner Sharav comments as follows:

- - -

The Bush Administration's proclaimed concern for the "value and dignity of human life" is contradicted by it endorsement of pesticide experiments on children.

Organophosphates, derived from World War II-era nerve agents, are banned in England, Sweden and Denmark. In the 1990's the National Academies of Science criticized EPA's regulation of these pesticides. The Clinton administration began moves to ban the agents but the Bush administration changed course.

The Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) reveals in a press release that well before the Bush Administration unveiled its September 12, 2005 Proposed Rule on human pesticide experiments, pesticide industry trade groups and lobbyists - Crop Life America and Bayer CropScience - met with the office of Management and Budget (OMB) and officials of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on August 9, 2005 and plotted loopholes to exempt the ban on pesticide testing in children.

PEER obtained copies of the notes of that closed door meeting.

This fundamental moral issue has roused thousands of U.S. scientists in the EPA to publicly object to EPA's imminent approval of a score of powerful, controversial pesticides. They have expressed their unprecedented objection because of "compelling evidence" showing that these pesticides "damage the developing nervous systems of fetuses, infants and children."

According to PEER, "these meeting notes make it clear that the pesticide industry's top objective is access to children for experiments." The primary objective of these corporate giants was to circumvent restrictions on the use of children in poisonous toxic pesticide experiments through deft loopholes incorporated into the text. The final
Rule allows testing on workers and allows dosing experiments on infants and pregnant women using non-pesticide toxic chemicals. The Bush administration approach has been faulted by both the EPA's own Scientific Advisory Panel and its Office of Inspector General.

Among the ghoulish text changes to the Rule urged by the pesticide industry lobbyists:

 "Re kids - never say never" (emphasis in original);

 "Pesticides have benefits. Rule should say so. Testing, too, has benefits";

 "We want a rule quickly - [therefore] narrow [is] better. Don't like being singled out but, speed is most imp."

 "Distinguish testing kids from using data on kids who were tested"; and

 "Some workers may legally be children, albeit old enough for DOL" [Department of Labor coverage].

Under the leadership of Bayer - whose infamous corporate forbearer, I.G. Farben, was intimately involved in human pesticide experiments at Auschwitz death camp - the pesticide industry successfully overturned the moral principles that define permissible medical research in a civilized society. The Nuremberg Code (1947) was universally endorsed by the entire world to guard against the likes of Bayer from ever again being in a position to conduct experiments such as these on human beings.

The Bush Administration incorporated into the U.S. government Rule on human pesticide testing, the precise textual changes requested by Bayer and Crop Life America.

PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, noted: "Unfortunately, using human beings as guinea pigs to test the toxic strength of commercial poisons has become a central regulatory strategy under the Bush administration."


Vera Hassner Sharav

- - -

In another recent statement, Vera Hassner Sharav says that following a 1997 law, also the FDA is quite prepared to encourage use of children as medical research subjects ...

The following confirms to us that the U.S. government (specifically, in this case, the FDA) and licensed academic and/or commercial laboratories that test drugs in human subjects have descended into a moral abyss.

FDA "bioethicist" Dr. Sara Bodkind, told the President's Council on Bioethics (December 2005) that under the 1997 law -- FDA Modernization Act --

"if the FDA issued a request for pediatric studies and if those studies were designed and approved by the FDA and they were completed, then the sponsor could get an additional six-month period of market protection, not only in the specific drug that they tested in children but in the entire moiety, in any preparation that used that particular chemical."

In other words, FDAMA opened the flood gates for drug testing to be done on children: the financial incentives were doubled, that is, a six month patent extension exclusivity, and the drug's market was expanded to include children.

This "public good" was "accomplished" by encouraging manufacturers and their paid academic pharmacologists to exploit children's vulnerability in mostly non-therapeutic risky drug experiments.

Dr. Bodkind stated:
"So sildenafil, for example, is now tested for pulmonary hypertension in children, but it's the compound that's known as Viagra. So if that company were to get six months of exclusivity, then it would apply to all of the products and all the uses of that moiety. So this was a very important incentive to encourage pediatric research. And that was I guess commonly called "the carrot."

Vera Hassner Sharav


posted by Sepp Hasslberger on Thursday June 8 2006
updated on Tuesday November 30 2010

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Readers' Comments

IN SAGINAW COUNTY, MICHIGAN, pesticides/herbicides are sprayed on our roadsides as a brush control Agent Orange like defoliant. The 2008 spraying is scheduled to take place THROUGH SEPTEMBER 19th, 2008. It is a horrific scenario at best, and even though we are in a pending lawsuit with the Saginaw County Road Commission and it's Independent Spray Contractor, they still not only have the guts to go ahead with it, but they are doing it at a time when CHILDREN ARE WAITING BY THE ROAD FOR THE BUS! If you want more information, please E-mail me!!!

Posted by: Marilyn Pokrak on September 3, 2008 06:14 AM


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